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Overview

Since 2017, Chris has been recognized for his work in Litigation: General Commercial by Chambers USA. In 2019, Chambers USA researchers reported Chris is recognized for his considerable skill in a range of commercial litigation including ERISA, healthcare and gambling matters. "[Chris Williams]is very measured, reasonable and comes up with a strategic approach to problems," noted a client.

Since 2013, Chris has been selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© in the areas of Commercial Litigation and Litigation – ERISA. For the years 2016 and 2018, Chris was recognized by Best Lawyers as its Cleveland ERISA Litigation “Lawyer of The Year,” a distinction reserved for one lawyer per practice area each year.

Chris also has been recognized by Benchmark Litigation as an Ohio “Litigation Star” in the areas of Competition, General Commercial, Health Care, Professional Liability, and Securities from 2012-2019.

Based on statewide voting by Ohio lawyers, Chris was recognized by Ohio Super Lawyers as a Top 100 Attorney in Ohio in 2013 and from 2015-2019, and as a Top 50 Attorney in Cleveland in 2013 and from 2015-2018. Chris is also a Life Member of the Judicial Conference of the 8th Judicial District (Cuyahoga County).

Chris currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Columbus-based Ohio State Legal Services Association and College Now of Greater Cleveland.

In addition to Co-Chairing the Litigation Department, Chris serves on Calfee’s Practice, Planning & Growth Committee (formerly known as the Executive Committee), Diversity & Inclusion Committee, and as Chair of the firm’s Pro Bono Committee.

Honors & Recognitions

Chambers USA, Litigation: General Commercial, 2017-2019

The Best Lawyers in America©, Commercial Litigation and Litigation – ERISA, 2013-2019

The Best Lawyers in America©, Cleveland ERISA Litigation “Lawyer of The Year,” 2016 and 2018

Benchmark Litigation, Local Litigation Star, Competition, General Commercial, Health Care, Professional Liability, and Securities, 2012-2019

Ohio Super Lawyers, 2013-2019; named to Top 100 lawyers in Ohio, 2013, 2015-2019; named to Top 50 lawyers in Cleveland, 2013, 2015-2018

Education

J.D., Georgetown University Law Center, 1989

B.A., Miami University, 1986

Experience

Experience

Commercial Litigation 

  • In 2018, and dating back to 2012, represented two of Ohio’s four casinos, and obtained judgment in the casinos’ favor with respect to federal and state constitutional claims asserted by a national anti-gambling organization and its Ohio members. The losing plaintiffs filed four separate appeals, including twice to the Ohio Supreme Court, and final judgment was entered in March 2018
  • Represents Ohio’s largest health care insurer in connection with multi-million-dollar real estate disputes arising from failed sale-leaseback transactions.
  • In 2016 represented one of Ohio’s largest steel companies in a multi-million-dollar three-week jury trial arising from a $100 million construction project gone awry.
  • In 2014, defended a publicly held Ohio bank against federal court allegations of lending and collections fraud and negotiated a nuisance value settlement of plaintiff’s claims.
  • In 2012, presented oral argument to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta and obtained final judgment affirming the district court’s order dismissing the adverse parties’ myriad federal claims arising from alleged fraud, RICO and conspiracy activities relating to failed Florida real estate investments.
  • Successfully established a lack of personal jurisdiction in Ohio and obtained a final judgment in 2012 from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio for a large North American parking management company in a dispute with a competitor arising from their joint venture at the Toronto Pearson International Airport.
  • In 2011, summary judgment was awarded to Calfee’s publicly held client in a case alleging alter ego and corporate veil theories against the client arising from a failed Cleveland real estate venture.
  • In 2010, represented a publicly owned Ohio bank in a class-action lawsuit arising from alleged false and fraudulent mass mailing advertisements; the case was dismissed with prejudice by the court with the granting of Calfee’s motion to dismiss.
  • In 2010, obtained summary judgment for a plaintiff bank against one of Ohio’s largest auto dealers arising from a fraudulent loan and auto purchase scam 

ERISA/Health Care Litigation 

  • In 2017 represented a publicly held Cleveland company in connection with multi-million-dollar claims against it arising from golden parachute/change-in-control agreements entered into with former company executives. Final judgment in favor of Calfee’s client was entered by the trial court, was affirmed by the Cuyahoga County Court of Appeals, and the losing plaintiffs unsuccessfully sought Ohio Supreme Court review of their claims.
  • In 2016, defended Ohio’s largest health care insurance company in separate, multi-million-dollar billing fraud lawsuits, one of which resulted in a final judgment disposing entirely of the plaintiffs’ $22 million causes of action, and the other of which resulted in a negotiated zero cost dismissal.
  • In 2013, while representing the public company employer, obtained a federal court preliminary injunction freezing the current and prospective assets of all four adverse parties in a multi-million-dollar ERISA healthcare benefits dispute arising from the mismanagement and underfunding of welfare plans.
  • In 2012, appeared for a preliminary injunction hearing in Newark, NJ federal court, the hometown of the opposing party, one of the world’s 10 largest insurers, and defeated the insurer’s request for an order prohibiting Calfee’s client from assigning to a third-party a multi-million-dollar administrative services agreement.
  • Following extensive fact and expert discovery and summary judgment briefing before the District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, favorably settled, in 2011, ERISA fiduciary duty and prohibited transaction claims filed by the bankruptcy trustee on behalf of an insolvent public company against its former officers and directors.
  • In 2010, following oral argument, obtained affirmation from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals of a summary judgment award in an ERISA case involving Plan Administrator discretion, the appropriate standard of appellate review and the interplay between written Plan terms and alleged conflicting oral representations.
  • In 2009, finalized a $27 million settlement against an international financial adviser arising out of the Calfee pension plan client’s losses due to investments made in Bernard Madoff-related funds.
  • In 2009, on cross-motions for summary judgment filed after three days of evidentiary hearing, successfully limited an ERISA plaintiff to a small fraction of his sought-after $9 million in damages and attorneys’ fees arising from the administration of a Supplemental Executive Retirement Plan.
  • In 2008, appeared in Dayton federal court for a class-action fairness hearing and reached an agreement to settle on favorable terms ERISA and RICO class-action claims arising from pension plan consulting and actuarial services.
  • Arguing ERISA preemption and standing issues before the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in 2005, obtained judgment affirming the Louisiana district court’s summary judgment on behalf of three clients. The companies had been sued in Louisiana state court for $2.4 million, arising from their alleged violations of Louisiana’s bad faith insurance statute.
  • In 2005, obtained an American Arbitration Association award on behalf of Ohio’s largest Medicaid healthcare provider following state court litigation and a multi-day arbitration hearing arising from Medicaid billing fraud and breach of contract allegations against the client.

Clients' Work

Professional & Community

Professional & Community

Judicial Conference of the 8th Judicial District (Cuyahoga County), life member

Ohio State Legal Services Association, Columbus, Ohio, board of directors

College Now of Greater Cleveland, board of directors

Presentations & Articles

Presentations & Articles

Presentations

"2018-2019 ERISA Litigation Update," Worldwide Employee Benefits Network Northeast Ohio Chapter Annual Legal & Regulatory Update, Cleveland, Ohio, March 7, 2019.

“A Day in the Life of In-House Counsel," Association of Corporate Counsel Panel Discussion, Cleveland, Ohio, November 13, 2018.

"The Art and Science of Jury Selection and the Parallels to Be Drawn From the Recent and Unprecedented Anti-Establishment Presidential Campaign,” Calfee, Halter & Griswold and KPMG’s 17th Annual Litigation Seminar, Cleveland, Ohio, September, 2016.

“Effective Voir Dire - Using Jury Selection to Increase Your Success at Trial,” Ohio State Bar Association, Cleveland, Ohio, September, 2015.

"Depositions of Corporate Representatives: Best Practices to Maximize Opportunities and Minimize Risk,” Panelist, Calfee, Halter & Griswold and KPMG’s 16th Annual Litigation Seminar, Cleveland, Ohio, September, 2015.

"Resolving Discovery Disputes: Let’s Eliminate the Motion to Compel,” Panelist, The Twenty-First Judicial Conference of the Eighth Judicial District, May, 2015.

"WEB Annual Legal & Regulatory Update - ERISA Litigation 2014-2015," Cleveland Chapter of the Worldwide Benefits Network (WEB), Cleveland, Ohio, March, 2015.

“Effective Voir Dire - Using Jury Selection to Increase Your Success at Trial,” Ohio State Bar Association, Cleveland, Ohio, October, 2014.

“Effective Voir Dire,” Ohio State Bar Association, Cleveland, Ohio, October, 2013.

“Lessons From and For In-House Counsel During Investigations and Litigation,” Calfee's 14th Annual Complex Litigation Seminar, Cleveland, Ohio, August, 2013.

Articles

“Federal Circuit Courts of Appeal Continue to Circumscribe the Instances in Which ERISA Plan Administrators May Rely on an Internal Plan Statute of Limitations,” Co-author, Calfee First Alert, September, 2015.

“Sixth Circuit Clarifies When the Terms of an ERISA Summary Plan Description are Binding,” Co-author, Calfee First Alert, August, 2015.

“Third Circuit Expands the Scenarios Under Which ERISA Parties May Recover Attorney’s Fees,” Co-author, Calfee First Alert, May, 2015. 

"U.S. Supreme Court Rejects “Presumption of Prudence” But Sets High Bar for Plaintiffs to Survive Motions to Dismiss ERISA Stock-Drop Suits,” Co-author, Calfee First Alert, June, 2014.

“The U.S. Supreme Court’s Reverence for Unambiguous ERISA Plan Terms Returns to Plan Administrators Some Needed Control Over ERISA Benefits Lawsuits,” Co-author, Calfee First Alert, June, 2014.

“States face battle when adding requirements for ACA counselors, navigators,” Co-author, Managed Healthcare Executive Magazine, March, 2014.

News & Events

PDF

Licensed In

  • Ohio 

Court Admissions

  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio
  • U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan
  • U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
  • U.S. Tax Court
  • U.S. Supreme Court

"Christopher Williams offers considerable experience in commercial disputes, representing clients in litigation across the country. He offers particular strengths in healthcare and ERISA claims."

Chambers USA, 2018

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